Going “Green” Instead of Being A “Prepper”

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Editor’s Note: This post is another entry in the Prepper Writing Contest from R. Ann Parris. If you have information for Preppers that you would like to share and possibly win a $300 Amazon Gift Card to purchase your own prepping supplies, enter today.


The “green” movement can cover a lot of our preparedness interests and purchasing habits, providing a degree of OpSec and cover for us. Conservationist and environmentalist are commonly bad words in some preparedness folds, but as a professional greenie myself (certified conservation landscape designer, landscape architect, permaculture designer, Critical Areas Act consultant, and ecosystem restoration management) I can tell you we’re not all that bad. You may find that it is wiser to couch your actions by going green instead of broadcasting you are a prepper.

And sometimes, preppers and greenies are already kind of walking in lock-step. We just don’t always realize it.

Two sides of the same coin

Think about Ducks Unlimited. There the nice people are, wandering around slapping mosquitoes, risking bashed thumbs, to help the pretty little wood ducks out by building them houses and nailing them to trees, replanting marshes.

All kinds of fairly liberal news organizations and viewers go “awwww, yay, look!”

Then half the Ducks Unlimited crew is out there come frost and low cloud cover, and this time they’re hauling long-barrel shotguns, salivating over the idea of roast duck and duck-fat potatoes.

They protect the environment. They work hard to save waterways, marshes, and the woods-water edges from development. They fight up and down to keep loggers away and make sure chemicals don’t get dumped. They lobby and garner support to prevent a performance stage that would increase human traffic and noise during nesting, breeding and duckling seasons. They get a motor boat restriction.

These are typically things we attribute to the “progressive”, “liberal”, “tree-hugger”, “left” of society. But the hunters, so usually on the “right” end of the social spectrum, are right there with them.

They reap the rewards of the habitat they’ve saved and created, not just for the wood ducks, but for all kinds of waterfowl, upland birds and small game. So do all the other critters near the water, and a lot of humans. If a prepper lives near those waterway edges, they benefit, too.

Both sides are in there, fighting essentially the same fight with the same positive results, although with a different motivation.

We can take advantage of the same kind of socially conscious “left” justifications, movements, interests and acceptance to hide or advance our preparedness.

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How do tree-huggers and preppers line up?

In our bids to withstand a disaster of various magnitude, we buy into old and new technologies that limit the amount of fossil fuels we burn, turning instead to renewable resources.

We learn new and incredible ways to grow year-round, in all climates, using renewable systems that limit reliance on factory-produced chemicals and oil-burning equipment. In doing so, we contribute to saving the heirloom crops of our parents, grandparents and forbears.

We learn ways to have livestock work for us, feeding themselves as they produce a byproduct we can use. We let them be our tools instead of burning more fossil fuels, have them clearing brush, mowing and tilling or hunting down garden and crop pests, or protecting the small livestock from any predators that will fit in a pig’s mouth.

We refine and develop and apply more and more techniques for capturing rainwater, storing it, and directing it where we can use it, instead of letting be wasted and channeling it as fast as possible – with faster water carrying more sediment and chemicals – away from our homes and into our waterways.

Urban, ‘burbs, or rural living, condo to barren bug-out location, the things we invest in to go off-grid commonly result in consuming less chemicals, destroying fewer woods and forests, and polluting less air and water.

Likewise, when we stash or salvage something for a project, we can justify it from the less-waste, reduce-reuse-recycle perspectives of an environmentalist. (Soda bottle or discarded window collection, anyone?)

Our neighbors see gun cases and range bags because we practice to ensure clean, humane hunting (doesn’t matter what’s actually in them).

Gardening for the good of all

We install that rain catchment system and the mulch bed or edimentals (edible ornamentals – an actual bearing peach tree, edible flowers and unusual greens, beautiful amaranth, and colorful chard) or our woodland rain garden (of wild edibles). We limit the rainwater runoff from our roof, pollution from lawns, and limit our draw on the aquifers amid this growing national drought, and we provide pollinator forage in there with our landscaping or a little urban or suburban oasis for wildlife.

Yeah, we make food. Maybe you say so. Maybe you pretend your lavender, garlic chives, candle peppers, scarlet beans, and purple cutting lettuce are just more pretty plants. Maybe you point out that your new white willow will soak up some of that soggy spot in the lawn, but don’t mention that it’s a medicinal and rabbit feed out there with the lilies and container-grown cattails and the blueberries and aronia that are going to be stunning in autumn.

We learn the old ways of food preservation to take advantage of seasonal produce. We do so to limit our reliance on commercial products, but in doing so we also opt out of a culture of disposable food containers, and the mines and factories that produce those, the chemicals used in processing and growing the foods and containers, and the fossil fuel used in shipping a can of tomatoes fourteen times before we buy it and drive it home.

See, when we buy into self-sufficiency, we really do create a better world, regardless of our primary motivation.

That means we can go forward and “hide in plain sight” without telling any lies when we use an environmental justification for our interests and projects. We just need to apply those happy “green” catchphrases.

We might even convert one of our ultra-liberal neighbors who would have run screaming from the idea of “prepping”, because they’re introduced in baby steps that don’t challenge their norm and sense of security. That makes for a more resilient community, because it’s not all on our backs. We’re not alone.

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Expanding our skills and knowledge resource pool

Being a greenie instead of a prepper, we no longer have to be super sneaky about how and where we learn our skills. We’re a “safe” kind of freak in the public’s eyes now. Without OpSec breathing down our necks, we open up the pool of people we can learn from.

We’re not limited to other preppers and survivalists, and the horror of arranging a meetup. We can just be hobbyists and practitioners because we’re interested in one thing – among other things.

We can now openly learn individual aspects from topic-specific practitioners. Hunting and reloading from hunters and trappers. Fishing from anglers. Livestock from those who have it. Canning from canners. Sewing from sewers. HAM and SSB CB from radio ops. Gardening from gardeners. Foraging from foragers. Bug-Out from through packers. Shooting from shooters.

And a real bonus is, unlike preppers, a lot of enthusiasts want you to come look at their babies and see what they do.

If we net ourselves a permaculturist or modern homesteader we looked up from a blog or met at a fruit stand or the farmer’s market, whoa, jackpot. We might get a whole load of knowledge about multiple fronts all in one sweet spot, OpSec still secure.

The truth but … maybe not the whole truth

You might not give a hoot about an island of plastic in the middle of the Pacific, starving polar bears, or the loss of forest in the Amazon. But these are unassailable facts. We can compare coverage maps, see them in video footage. This makes them “safe” – like the truth of fecal-oral disease risks following a flood.

You can use those facts and others in conjunction with your own activities when asked. Most people will draw their own conclusions when they’re sprinkled in there together.

Say we’re running around salvaging things to build a cold frame for greens, cabbage beetle and bird exclusion frames, maybe a vertical pallet garden and drip irrigation, maybe window lettuce towers, and somebody finally asks about it.

There’s a major drought in California and we pump water faster than aquifers and reservoirs refill. Chickens spend their lives packed into tiny cages that are barely big enough to lift their heads all the way. We want to grow our own broccoli and strawberries, and have some laying hens. We’re not buying it in one shot at Lowes; there’s an island of trash in the Pacific already, sheesh.

Ohhhh. You’re a … whatever it is.

“I’m not an extremist or PETA or anything like that, we’re still buying stuff from stores and all, but…” *Shrug.* “Every little bit, right?”

Huh. Yeah. Every little bit. Right. Okay.

Every word is true. Every statement is one of those fact-truths, not any type of twisted science. You may not actually care about the quality of life for a laying hen in Big Ag production, but you can still share the fact. They can draw their own conclusion.

You are, again, a “safe” kind of freak, the kind that hugs trees. Not the scary anti-government kind that was just on the TV. And if you really want to make them go away, try to convert them to your newfound interest, environmentalism. Many will start avoiding you.

Mission accomplished.

OpSec takes over our brains

We tend to want to learn new skills and complete projects because we’re motivated by the disasters we foresee. We learn OpSec early in preparedness, and we understand that it hamstrings us in some ways – like forming networks and groups. We just can’t seem to cut the cord, though.

We don’t want to become a target for thieves now. We don’t want somebody to know and remember us and become targets later. So we don’t talk about preparedness-related things. Good OpSec.

But sometimes we forget that other people do these things we do, too. A lot of them do the same or similar just because it suits them. This is their hobby or passion. Gardeners, scrapbookers, home births, shooters, radio types, model builders, homeschooling, scrap metal sculptors, hunters, knitters – it takes all kinds.

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Reenactors are a good example of a “group” who we can learn a fair bit from about off-grid living.

We also forget that we don’t always have to share our interest as being motivated by preparedness – or our newfound reason for going green. We forget that we can say “I’m interested in” or “I want to learn” because we are interested and want to learn. We forget that we can just shrug our shoulders when asked “why” and say, “I just am. It’s interesting.”

Reenactors are a good example of a “group” who we can learn a fair bit from about off-grid living. They just like to pretend to be from a time before electricity, the way some people like to paint and some people collect stamps.

Use that. Just be interested in something.

If we’re not comfortable with that, really feel like we have to have an explanation, there’s always the greenie option. We don’t even have to talk about self-sufficiency unless we hunt down a homesteader or permie. “Environmentally motivated” does the job.

The Safety Net of a Greenie

Hiding in plain sight doesn’t always work, but it can, when done right.

We’re in a major upswing where sustainability and environmentally friendly are things that are viewed as relatively common if not normal, and even laudable by a lot of society. “Environmentalist” covers a lot of our crazy projects, and can be used to explain away some of our activities.

You’re on your own coming up with a “green” explanation for that chest carrier and all the AR furniture with your spouse and in-laws, but there are regularly eco-friendly benefits to lot of our purchasing habits, if they’re done smart. Just try to stay away from the polarizing types like PETA and Whale Wars. Most of us greenies aren’t really like that. We “normal” eco-freaks tend to want to make them go away as much as we do the people who get twenty paper napkins at McDonald’s, use three, and throw the whole wad away. (Used napkins are recyclable and compostable, BTW.)

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23 Comments on "Going “Green” Instead of Being A “Prepper”"

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BobW
Guest
Wow. An excellent article. A ton of good thoughts here that should, nay…must be thought through seriously. One of the best articles I’ve seen on prepping across multiple forums. Informative, interesting, but not preachy. I have long avoided the label of ‘prepper.’ Those guys are whack jobs. While some are a lot less wrong than others, the label brings stigma in most main stream populations. The label fits me as well as the neighbor’s tinfoil hats. I firmly believe in preparing my family for a rainy day. Just what that rainy day is matters not. Be it a forest/wild fire,… Read more »
R. Ann
Guest

Thank you. You’re very kind.

I’m one of those who already was a “P” before the word became mainstream and associated with the extreme side. There are benefits to the media attention (growing ranks, growing ranks = more research and readiily affordable long-term storage options, especially). It’s not something I want broadcast, though, both for the possible preconceptions and the OpSec.)

I agree with you on being ready in tiers. Seems like “we” regularly forget how much happens without the world, nation or state actually stopping, however personally or regionally devastating an event can be to us.

BobW
Guest
While I think about the different disaster types, and the risks to my people, I honestly never thought about it as tiered readiness. If you have 3mo or 1yr worth of supplies, that’s great. What will you reasonably have left after a F-5 touches down in your neighborhood? I suppose its the former military training, but I look at it in terms of exposure and risk management. Are your supplies safe from likely risks? Break-ins, hurricanes/tornadoes/flooding/rockslides/blizzard are all general risks I see people needing to think about. EMP is a separate and distinct issue, as is war, marshal law, civil… Read more »
R. Ann
Guest
I apply the term “tier” to cover several things. From the acute, sub-acute and chronic risk assessment used for operations and personnel for physical harm and various exposures, to the likelihood of occurrence or an event. I also use it to umbrella personal zone risks – today, car kit for puncture and CCW, plus EDC, plus get-home kit and cache(s) that apply to being able to get home during and after a crisis of any level, and to being able to get in during a cordon and get my pets back out. Those zones expand from daily attentiveness and readiness… Read more »
Huples
Guest

Very, very smart article. Prepping for most scenarios is a return to green living (or else you die).
I support a few green organizations as I’d rather my prepping stays for fun and not for life (however I do feel ten years from now at the most I’ll be darn glad I like prepping).
One thing I’d add is biking and canoeing. Both are green, make you fit, and could be very useful if shtf happens.
Best article of all since I started here. Awesome job! Write more please

R. Ann
Guest

Thank you, that’s very sweet.

John
Guest

Well not green really. You use what you can to the best of your ability, or you die. Not the same as “green”.

Huples
Guest

Kind of is John. Take as little as possible, reuse/renew as much as possible. Living as sustainably as possible with your local nature

John
Guest

While recycling is green, it is not at all the point. You use what is there. If you have coal in abundance, use coal. If you have oil, use oil. If you have wind use wind.
Survival isn’t about being picky, it’s about understanding the resources around you, and using those resources in the best (efficient, practical, etc) way possible so those resources are not wasted.
Thriving is being even better and making sure you have a clean environment that has those resources for generations. BUT, that is different than strict survival.

John
Guest

Well not green really. You use what you can to the best of your ability, or you die. Not the same as “green”.

montanalivin
Guest

Awesome article, I often refer to myself as a gun toting liberal, and buy organic/natural as much as I can. Wish I could find a prepping site w/ a similar outlook. I always feel that I don’t quite fit in.

BobW
Guest

While I wound never use the “L” word in labeling myself, I understand what you are saying. Dr. Henry has put together a pretty diverse group of contributors here, that seem to cover the gamut of possible viewpoints. Not every article will tickle your fancy, but I’d bet that there is something in most every article that can make you think. That is after all, the principle reason for the site. Making people think, even if its near-violent disagreement with an author’s thesis.

Pat Henry
Guest
Thanks for pointing that out Bob! I do believe that often preppers get painted into a box of the camo wearing militia types who are scanning the shortwave frequencies waiting for another Ruby Ridge. We do have some aspect of that in our ranks but there are so many other viewpoints and concerns that get overlooked. I was just asked for an interview by someone writing a research paper and when asked about the Prepping Subculture, this is what I said. “No, I don’t consider Prepping as it is portrayed in the media as accurate and enough to warrant a… Read more »
Huples
Guest

Very true. I’m social democrat and far left of almost everyone I know. Does not mean I expect the Government to help me at all if civilization falls or a flood happens.

R. Ann
Guest
I like to tell people that I’m an Independent because I hate both sides of two-party systems equally. : ) There are some prepper forums that concentrate on the gun-toting side, and others that sprinkle it in because users are interested in the self-sufficiency aspects Pat mentions, where self-defense, home-defense and retreat-defense are only one wedge in a wheel that lets us roll along smoothly in sunny skies or dark storms. I like the balance here that BobW mentions and that you can see in Pat’s articles. It’s always interesting to see the voting numbers on various articles, although it’s… Read more »
John
Guest
First and foremost, thanks for having an article for public consumptuon. It is always beneficial to have them whether we agree with their points or not, ad it makes us think. So again, thank you. I did like that this article made a point of indicating that there are some immediately practice things that can be done in the first part of the article. I liked that the author knew that hunters are being a part (though in truth the largest amount of revenue the government receives for protecting the environment is from hunters in the form of taxes from… Read more »
R. Ann
Guest
By all means, do not abandon OpSec. The points there – with multiple examples – was that we can hide our preparedness brains under a “green” hat, creating a reason that allows us to openly do things if we feel like we need to have a reason to do them. Unfortunately, because of OpSec any number of people won’t have a conservation landscaper or designer come out to help them figure out the best locations for swales, windmills, watermills, and orchards, won’t seek help in designing efficient, cooperative animal-crop systems either backyard or large scale, and are so far gone… Read more »
John
Guest
You know, you might have a point about the opsec, but I still come in on the opposite side of things. Perhaps I have missed opportunities by having what some might consider excessive Opsec. On the other hand, I have also avoided an unknown amount of informants that I didn’t intend to alert. You point out some possible things that might have been missed. On the other hand, (taking your hunters licensing course as a case in point) if I lived in NYC, trying to find that thing in the city would be more of a tip off than the… Read more »
R. Ann
Guest
“As for the alternative energy sources, it comes (as stated) from the need to maintain energy sources when you were talking “green” and I was pointing out that informed individuals would understand that the “green” energies have their own issues.” — You may be mixing up my article with somebody else’s on this front. The only times I specifically mention any alternative to fossil fuels, I point out applying intelligent design – such as 4S’s for water and having livestock work instead of fuels – with the intention of reducing or eliminating non-renewable energy draws entirely. I do point out… Read more »
John
Guest

I’m not confusing your article with anyone else’s. I was pointing out the flaw.
As you aren’t really reading what I am saying, be informed I’m not continuing to read your posts. I find it a waste of time.

Huples
Guest
Question for you John. Do you feel climate change is human caused? If the answer is no then I more clearly understand your points being raised. Of note without fossil fuels all green alternatives cannot be made, transported, or supported. That is why it is vitally important to get them in place before refineries stop deliveries. As for politics there is none at all in the original article. Supporting using alternative energy sources for a prepper is not pushing any specific political viewpoint. Discarding them and going fossil only is very much pushing a specific political viewpoint. Climate change is… Read more »
John
Guest

Huples, your initial question is completely off topic. As such I will inform you it won’t be answered, as it is a logical fallacy.
As for whether or not it was political, I think you need to reread my original comments. You will have the answer to that quibble there.
Edited for a typo.

not so sure
Guest

I just can’t side with the greenies. They harassed my dad when he was logging (tree spiking). They harassed me when I was deployed on a Trident submarine (green peace). Now they are building massive windmills (with blinking red lights) on all four sides of my house with my tax money. All they do is tell others how to live. We would be better off without them.

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